CM: Sarawak experiencing labour shortage of 5,000 workers in construction sector

File photo for illustration purposes

KUCHING: Sarawak is short of more than 5,000 workers in the construction sectors due to the state’s Covid-19 travel restrictions on foreigners, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“As you know before the Movement Control Order (MCO in March), some of these workers went back (to their home country), but now we have very strict entry regulations for the state, they are not able to come back to work.

“So what we are going to do now is to look into all of this, especially for our foreign workers. We are short of more than 5,000 workers in the construction sector,” he said.

Abang Johari was speaking to reporters after announcing the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 4.0 at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here this morning.

He said one of the ways the state government can solve this issue is by reskilling existing local workers.

He said locals can upgrade their skills to take on available jobs left by the foreign skilled workers in the construction sector.

“So the committee, chaired by deputy chief minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, will look into it, maybe we have to do reskilling programmes for our local workers. They upgrade their skills so that they can be involved in the construction sector.

“Meaning, we train these people from other sectors. Because our economy is there, our economy is still running, we are just short on workers.

“You just imagine 5,000 is a lot. In other words, there are 5,000 jobs available,” said Abang Johari.

Another option he suggested was to automate certain jobs which require less or no skills such as moving construction materials.

“Some (jobs) can be replaced by automation. The state government does not mind investing in procuring these (automation) machines. It’s one of the solutions,” he said.

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KK MP expresses annoyance over Musa Aman’s ‘open letter’

Chan taking a swab test upon arrival at KLIA on Oct 15 before attending Parliament sitting which will start on Nov 2.

KOTA KINABALU (Oct 20): Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin has expressed his annoyance with former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman’s “open letter to the people of Malaysia”, whereby the latter had absolved himself of any blame for causing the latest wave of Covid-19 cases in Sabah.

“It is annoying to read the statement issued, as Tan Sri Musa Aman was the one who had attempted a coup on the previous Warisan-led Sabah state government,” the DAP lawmaker said today.

In the open letter which was widely published by the mainstream media, Musa blamed the then Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, for calling a state election rather than “handing back” the government to him.

Saying that Musa’s statement was totally “uncalled for”, Chan questioned why did Musa decided to make such a statement especially when the people are struggling with more than 800 Covid-19 positive cases a day over the past three days?

“Isn’t it a clear case of shirking of responsibilities by Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)? This is not the time for politicking and that Musa Aman’s denial of liability right now is absolutely not welcomed. (It) is an afterthought and does not help in reducing the impact of Covid-19.

“He should take a leaf from another former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak who had yesterday reminded politicians to focus at tackling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic instead of engaging in self-serving politicking,” he said.

Chan added what Salleh said was true, that the people are starting to see politicians as being greedy and selfish.

“What Musa Aman and other GRS leaders should do right now is to start working and not to play up the blame game.

“Instead, they should urge the federal government to expedite the gazetting process for the RM45 billion Covid-19 bill which has been passed in Parliament almost two months ago back in August, so that the funds could be put to good use right now in acquiring and procuring the relevant medical equipment such as beds, ventilators, test kits  to treat Covid-19 positive patients,” he said.

On Aug 25, the Malaysian Parliament had passed the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Coronavirus Disease 2019) (Covid-19) Bill 2020 to set up a Covid-19 fund in which RM45 billion had been approved.

According to Chan, the MPs from Pakatan Harapan (PH), including himself, felt that the allocation of RM45 billion was insufficient to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

They had suggested a sum of RM90 billion instead, he added.

“However, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government had then been rather adamant with the RM45 billion sum being sufficient and had refused to even consider the RM90 billion proposal by PH Members of Parliament.

“But now, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is struggling with a severe lack of funding. Not only the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) issued a statement on Oct 18 urging the federal government to release emergency funds in order to manage the worsening Covid-19 situation in Sabah, the MOH had to also reactivate its special Covid-19 fund to solicit donations from the public and offering tax reliefs for the same.

“It’s really alarming for the Sabah public health care system that, the occupancy rate of 1,018 beds across nine Covid-19 hospitals in Sabah had reached 71 per cent, and that 72 per cent of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in the state’s public hospitals were in use.

“There were positive cases in Kinarut but who have been left at home for two days before being taken to the hospital for treatment,” he said.

Chan said this kind of delay, which is mainly attributed to the lack of resources, is unacceptable.

He therefore urged the federal government to speed up the gazetting of the Covid-19 funding bill and to release the funds urgently to the MOH to enable the ministry to deal with the increasing Covid-19 patients at public hospitals in Sabah.

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Shell’s plan of setting up new office in Miri a welcoming news — Ting

Sebastian Ting

MIRI: Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting is all-out supportive of Shell’s plan to set up a new office here, believing that this would bring in economic benefits to this city.

He said according to a source, Shell is looking at establishing a new office here that can accommodate at least 1,000 employees, some of whom are said to be those on transfer from other regional offices.

“This is great news for Miri, which has been a key oil and gas hub since 1910.

“We welcome such plan for relocation and expansion of Shell Miri’s office, which should boost the population and also the spending power of Mirians – bringing about another round of economic growth for the city.

“Obviously, the supporting industries and the local employment market would benefit tremendously,” he said in a press statement issued yesterday.

Ting, who is Piasau assemblyman, also believed that the new Shell office would result in the expansion of many social, cultural, entertainment, sports as well as food and beverage facilities to accommodate the needs, demands and lifestyles of the international community.

“The state government, through the local authorities and relevant agencies, would strongly support in facilitating an efficient and smooth establishment of the new office.

“I give Shell my 100-per cent support and will do all that is necessary to help them in matters that require government’s approvals and assistance,” assured the assistant minister.


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Road to Rumah Panjang Nanga Ulai Debak cut-off by landslide

Some 120 villagers at Rumah Panjang Nanga Ulai Debak, Betong are affected by the landslide.

KUCHING  (Oct 14): The main road leading to Rumah Panjang Nanga Ulai Debak, Betong has been cut-off due to a landslide which occurred around 8.30am yesterday.

The Betong Civil Defence Force (APM) in a statement today said a total of 120 longhouse folks are currently stranded at their longhouse as the affected road is the only way in or out of the area (Nga Tot).

“It is believed that heavy rain caused the landslide,” the statement said.

It also said that the road a single carriageway was not accessible to any type vehicles due to the large amount of soil and mud.

As there is no alternative road leading to the longhouse, APM were called to the scene this morning to access the situation.

It is also reported that no one was injured due to the landslide.

As of time of writing, efforts to clear the landslide is still underway.g.

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Head of State honours frontliners with appreciative donation

Taib (second left) presenting a mock cheque of RM5,000 to Sarawak Deputy Police Commissioner Dato Dev Kumar during a high tea reception as part of the event to mark the Head of State’s 84th birthday celebration. – Penerangan photo

KUCHING (Oct 11): The Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud this morning presented appreciative donation of RM5,000 each to 32 frontliner agencies involved in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic in Sarawak.

The presentation was held in conjunction with a high tea reception as part of the event to mark the Head of State’s 84th birthday celebration at a leading hotel here.

The agencies involved were the health department, state and federal enforcement agencies, state departments, broadcasting department, divisional residents, Kuching South City Council and Kuching North City Commission.

Meanwhile, the guests including Taib’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib were entertained to some performances such as contemporary and traditional dances and songs.

Earlier, Taib, Raghad and other dignitaries were invited to cut a cake mark his official 84th birthday.

Present were Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing and wife Puan Sri Datin Amar Corrine Masing, Federal Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi, Speaker of State Legislative Assembly Datuk Amar Mohd. Asfia Awang Nasar, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong, Minister of Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian and wife Datin Sri Enn Ong Siok Ean, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion as well as assistant ministers and other local dignitaries.

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Govt open to various options to boost revenue

The Finance Ministry cannot discount any possibility or any avenues of taxation as long as it is fair taxation. Bernama File Photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 8): Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz says widening the Sales and Services Tax (SST) is one of the many options available to expand the government’s revenue base but the timing has to be right.

“We are examining various options to intensify our economy and the important thing is to expand the government’s revenue base.

“But it needs to be at the right timing because we need to consider the impact on the people, economy, cost of living and et cetera,” he said in an interview on BFM Radio today.

Tengku Zafrul said this when asked if the government is looking at widening and increasing the SST, following the expected improvement in the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, which is forecast to be between 5.5 per cent and 8.0 per cent.

He said that the ministry cannot discount any possibility or any avenues of taxation as long as it is fair taxation.

The government needs to optimise its existing tax collection, he said, adding that there are a lot of leakages that needed to be reviewed.

“We need to review the scope of taxes and how efficient is the current tax system,” he said.

Asked on the efficiency of the tax collection today, he said that it is “debatable”.

“We are considering measures as well to manage the shadow economy. But it is important that we take feedback from the businesses,” he added. — Bernama


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Sarawakians smart enough to spot fake information on social media, says CM

(From left) Jamit, Jaul, Abdul Karim, Abang Johari, Masing, Nanta, Ugak, Liwan and Chukpai in a group photo with Nanga Mujong bridge in the background.

KAPIT (Oct 5): Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg opined that Sarawakians are smart enough to know what is real or otherwise regarding information posted in social media.

Speaking at a working visit to the Nanga Mujong bridge located some 35 kilometres from Kapit, Abang Johari cited an example saying that certain quarters had said that Kapit was lacking in infrastructure development.

“In contrast, Deputy Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and his team have done a lot for the people such as the road to Nanga Mujong, Tunoh up to the Baleh hydroelectric project (HEP) dam site.

“As such, the people were wise enough to differentiate between factual and fake information,” he said.

On the Baleh HEP, Abang Johari explained that it would provide not only electricity but also solar and hydrogen energy.

“This is the type of renewable energy that the state is focusing on,” he said.

Abang Johari also said that as a caring government, the Sarawak government was elevating the native court to enhance its efficiency to deal with matters that affected the Bumiputera community, such as native land.

The chief minister said the native laws would be strengthened to better serve the community and a syllabus on the native court could be introduced in the local university to enable the younger people to learn about local laws.

Earlier, Abang Johari was briefed by Public Works Department (JKR) on the progress of the road project from Nanga Mujong to Tunoh and the Baleh HEP.

Among those present were Masing, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister for Utility Datuk Liwan Lagang, Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak, Pelagus assemblymen Wilson Nyabong Ijang, Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon and Bukit Goram assemblyman Jefferson Jamit Unyat.

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Trump in quarantine as close aide gets positive Covid test

Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump said late Thursday he would go into quarantine after a top aide tested positive for coronavirus, in a shock development that threatened to disrupt his scheduled public appearances in the crucial final weeks of the election campaign.

Trump confirmed in an interview with Fox News that Hope Hicks, one of his closest confidantes, had tested positive and added later on Twitter that he and First Lady Melania Trump were awaiting their own test results.

“She did test positive. I just heard about this. She tested positive,” Trump told Fox News.

“She’s a hard worker. Lot of masks, she wears masks a lot but she tested positive,” he added. “Then I just went out with a test. I’ll see — you know, because we spent a lot of time — and the first lady just went out with a test also.”

“In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!” he tweeted soon after. His results are expected on Thursday or Friday.

Trump did not say how long he was planning to be in isolation — he is regularly tested for the potentially deadly virus but the tests can yield false negative results.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether he would canceling his Friday schedule of campaign events, which includes a rally in Florida.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people stay home and isolate for up to 14 days if they might have been exposed to the virus.

Hicks was traveling with Trump on Air Force One just this Tuesday to fly to Cleveland for the first presidential debate with Democrat Joe Biden.

She was also with him on the Marine One helicopter Wednesday when he flew back to the White House after a rally in Minnesota.


– ‘She wears masks a lot’ –


US media, citing unnamed sources, said Hicks was isolated on the journey back from Minnesota after showing mild symptoms and tested positive Thursday morning.

Trump says the United States has put the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, behind and he rarely wears a mask, noting that he receives frequent testing.

However, his own health experts have often given less rosy assessments and he has been sharply criticized by some for holding large rallies where few supporters wear masks.

Polls show most Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, a potentially decisive issue ahead of the November 3 election battle against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Supporters have voiced concerns about the president’s backing in swing states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Biden aims to reclaim after Trump won them in 2016.

Asked about Hicks before Trump’s comments, White House spokesman Judd Deere said “the president takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously.”

Deere said the White House takes care to follow procedures “for limiting Covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible both on complex and when the president is traveling.” – – AFP

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Hajiji Noor, well-known political figure in Sabah

Residents of Kampung Mengkabung Tuaran give the thumbs-up in a photo with a poster  Hajiji  when met last week. — Bernama photo

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 29 (Bernama) — Datuk Hajiji Noor has been a household name in Sabah since his foray into the state’s political arena 30 years ago.

Born in Kampung Serusup, Tuaran, it had never crossed his mind to enter politics and become an elected representative for he was more comfortable being a government officer.

“Never have I thought or have ambition to be a politician. I was content being a government officer, but this is God’s will,” he told Bernama in an interview recently.

Among the important positions he has held in the Sabah government were as Local Government and Housing Minister and as assistant minister in various ministries such as in the Arts, Youths and Sports Ministry, Chief Minister’s Department and Finance Ministry.

Hajiji was in his 30’s when he took a dive into politics and was active in championing issues on Sabah politics using the USNO (United Sabah National Organisation) platform and was fielded as a candidate for the Sulaman constituency in 1990, where he won with a majority of 281 votes in the 7th state.

Hajiji, who graduated in politics from the University of New Hampshire in the United States, then forged his political path with UMNO starting in 1993. He has held the same seat for seven terms under UMNO and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

He has held several positions in UMNO and Bersatu such as the divison head for Tuaran UMNO, Sabah UMNO chairman, chairman for the main committee for Sabah Bersatu launching ceremony and is currently the Sabah Bersatu chief and Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman.

In the 14th General Election, Hajiji, 65, obtained 12,966 votes ahead of Abdullah Sani Daud of Warisan, who garnered 5,192 votes and Arifin Harith of Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (467 votes).

Married to Datin Juliah Salag and blessed with four children and 12 grandchildren, Hajiji led the PN coalition in the 16th state election on Saturday.

Hajiji’s charisma, leadership and people’s friendly personality and commitment in discharging his duties as an elected representative in the area continued to win the constituents’ hearts when he garnered 5,919 votes in a three-cornered fight.

He defeated his nephew Datuk Aliasgar Basri from Warisan who obtained 2,820 votes and Parti Cinta Sabah’s Datuk Rekan Hussien (253 votes). — BERNAMA

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Bursa falls after Anwar claims collapse of Perikatan government

The FBM KLCI index plunged two per cent to 8.32 this afternoon, shortly after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made a shock announcement that he now has enough MPs to wrest power from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition. – Bernama file photo

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 23): The FBM KLCI index plunged two per cent to 8.32 this afternoon, shortly after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made a shock announcement that he now has enough MPs to wrest power from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

The KLSE Bursa opened at 8.50 this morning.

The PKR president said the majority of those supporting him are “Malay-Muslim MPs”, claiming that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government is practically over today.

“Thank God I have solid and convincing support from MPs to be presented to the Agong,” he told reporters here. – Malay Mail


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